Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thank You, Welcome Home

Haiku My Heart
July 22, 2011

Haiku My Heart is a creation of my friend, Rebecca, who writes the recuerda mi corazon blog. This meme is in its second year. Check it out and see more fantastic photos and read more Haiku from all over the world. And if you're interested, find out how to participate yourself at recuerda mi corazon.

Amber waves of grain

Side by side we are buried

Side by side we served

Raising the coffin flag of a deceased Veteran at a ceremony

According to my research, the letter at the end of this post was written on 12/27/2004. It was e-mailed to me by a good friend, and Veteran from the American war in Vietnam, just a week or so ago. That's right, it was one of the Larrys. Larry N. from Memphis, TN.

When I watch TV, I see corporations jumping on the support-the-troops band wagon. Sporting events have half-time or seventh inning stretch festivities to celebrate the modern day soldier. Ceremonies abound making sure the Veterans in Iraq and Afghanistan aren't subjected to a population of people that couldn't care less that they served their country and watched their brothers and sisters shed blood and die.

I've got one friend that vehemently denies that any Vietnam Veteran was spit upon or called a baby killer. No one spit on me. No one called me a baby killer. No one, not one family member or friend, was even at the airport when I returned home from the war. No one ever said anything to me except for my Brother-in-law's Mother, an insensitive woman who asked me if I ever killed anyone.

I don't know how he knows that no one was called any names. I'm sure someone somewhere at one time or another was treated poorly when seen in uniform back in the 1960's and early 1970's. How could there not be some ill will as the protests against the war raged on at a high pace for many years before the government brought an end to the American war in Vietnam.

Common Bumper Sticker for a Vietnam Veteran

By the way, I like the sound of that moniker for the Vietnam War. The American war in Vietnam. Has a great ring to it. It was never declared a war you know. The American government defied the Geneva Convention with what they did in Vietnam, from naming a Prime Minister to withholding elections to providing arms, all against the UN Charter and against the 1954 Geneva Agreements. Look it up. It's all there. I'm not providing links. But I'm not telling any lies. Just Google "The Pentagon Papers."

Sometime in 1969, Republic of Vietnam. "Boots on the Ground"

Anyway, this Marine Corps Major, Brian P. Bresnahan, wrote this profound piece and I haven't read it until recently. This is the ultimate "Thank You" I've waited for since 1968. I don't need any fuss at a sporting event, or some TV commercial collecting beer bottle caps and beer can tabs so members of the armed forces can go see a ball game.

Actually, it's too late for any of that. We Veterans take care of each other. We shake hands and avert our eyes when the tears flow. We thank each other and welcome each other home. We've been doing that for years. We started doing that when we came out of the woods. We have done this since our heads came out of that cloud of smoke. We stop each other in parking lots when we see a Republic of Vietnam bumper sticker. At the VA. At Native American Pow Wow honoring ceremonies. On the street, in Walmart or the Natural Food Store and with our hearts when we hear of another brother dead or dying from the affects of Agent Orange.

The uncanny thing is that I don't feel one bit resentful that the people are doing something to honor current day Veterans. And since I watch a lot of sporting events, (my mindless fodder choice as opposed to reality shows, murder dramas and Idol), I see a lot of commercials and pomp during the broadcasts that honor the brave men and women that serve our country. I'm also keeping in mind that all this is sponsored by some corporation, but I do see the rank and file common man doing it as well on occasion, especially Memorial Day and Veterans Day, and now recently, the Fourth of July.

Some find it hard to believe that someone that wants peace, and is against the wars the United States is involved in, would support the troops and not have a problem with the rest of America honoring them as well. If you've been coming here for any length of time, may I call your attention to the side bar where it shows very clearly that I honor those that have given the utmost to Family, Community and Country. May I suggest you do too.

All Gave Some, Some Gave All

This letter has the heading of "A Thank You from a Marine stationed in Iraq". Without further adieu, here is the 2004 letter by Major Brian Bresnahan:

A guy gets time to think over here and I was thinking about all the support we get from home. Sometimes it's overwhelming. We get care packages at times faster than we can use them. There are boxes and boxes of toiletries and snacks lining the center of every tent; the generosity has been amazing. So, I was pondering the question: "Why do we have so much support?"

In my opinion, it came down to one thing: Vietnam . I think we learned a lesson, as a nation, that no matter what, you have to support the troops who are on the line, who are risking everything. We treated them so poorly back then. When they returned was even worse. The stories are nightmarish of what our returning warriors were subjected to. It is a national scar, a blemish on our country, an embarrassment to all of us
After Vietnam , it had time to sink in. The guilt in our collective consciousness grew. It shamed us. However, we learned from our mistake.

Somewhere during the late 1970's and into the 80's, we realized that we can't treat our warriors that way. So, starting during the Gulf War, when the first real opportunity arose to stand up and support the troops, we did. We did it to support our friends and family going off to war. But we also did it to right the wrongs from the Vietnam era. We treated our troops like the heroes they were, acknowledged and celebrated their sacrifice, and rejoiced at their homecoming instead of spitting on them.

And that support continues today for those of us in Iraq . Our country knows that it must support us and it does. The lesson was learned in Vietnam and we are better because of it.

Everyone who has gone before is a hero. They are celebrated in my heart. I think admirably of all those who have gone before me. From those who fought to establish this country in the late 1770's to those I serve with here in Iraq . They have all sacrificed to ensure our freedom.

But when I get back, I'm going to make it a personal mission to specifically thank every Vietnam Vet I encounter for their sacrifice. Because if nothing else good came from that terrible war, one thing did. It was the lesson learned on how we treat our warriors. We as a country learned from our mistake and now treat our warriors as heroes, as we should.

I am the beneficiary of their sacrifice. Not only for the freedom they, like veterans from other wars, ensured, but for how well our country now treats my fellow Marines and I. We are the beneficiaries of their sacrifice.

Semper Fidelis,
 Major Brian P. Bresnahan
 United States Marine Corps

May Peace prevail on the Sacred Earth Mother


Vinay Leo R. said...

Interesting haiku.. the first line esp. captured my attention..

Marit said...

Your post really touches me today... they always do somehow but this time even more. I promised Rebecca on her blog that I would 'drink deep from small cups' today... and I'm doing that right now. I learn so much from you. Peace, my friend, peace of mind and peace in the world. (PS My son signes all his letters with 'love & peace'... he's 19...)

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

Eloquent, my friend, simply eloquent. Thank you for continuing to speak out so passionately.

Snap said...

Honor the Warrior, Not The War .... Amen..

Touching, wonderful

peace .....

rebecca said...

your post here runs so deep. it pierces my very soul. i want this for us. this mindful honoring of all life. i want eyes that look into hearts, past all the endless differences. i want the peace that comes from truly being present and living as one.

together, side by side, in the family of belonging, the world family of belonging.

thank you for your place in all our hearts. you are a powerful giver of wisdom always waking us up to peace.

Ramesh Sood said...

May Peace Prevail.. God bless!!

Rosie said...

Whoa... such a powerful post today. A double dose with the letter too. The Queen recently honoured a small town here in the UK (Wootton Bassett) because of the way the entire town honoured each fallen hero on their repatriation. They'd line the main street and applaud each of the fallen as they passed by - a celebration of life and courage. Bravo to you and your friends. xo

Noelle Clearwater said...

I love you. This is one of my favorite poems. I think that it applies here my dear friend. Please accept it as my comment with a heart full of wonder and question and our country's lack of compassion for the many young men who suffered so greatly during that Watershed period in our history. I remember it well.

The Simple Truth

I bought a dollar and a half's worth of small red potatoes,
took them home, boiled them in their jackets
and ate them for dinner with a little butter and salt.
Then I walked through the dried fields
on the edge of town. In middle June the light
hung on in the dark furrows at my feet,
and in the mountain oaks overhead the birds
were gathering for the night, the jays and mockers
squawking back and forth, the finches still darting
into the dusty light. The woman who sold me
the potatoes was from Poland; she was someone
out of my childhood in a pink spangled sweater and sunglasses
praising the perfection of all her fruits and vegetables
at the road-side stand and urging me to taste
even the pale, raw sweet corn trucked all the way,
she swore, from New Jersey. "Eat, eat" she said,
"Even if you don't I'll say you did."
Some things
you know all your life. They are so simple and true
they must be said without elegance, meter and rhyme,
they must be laid on the table beside the salt shaker,
the glass of water, the absence of light gathering
in the shadows of picture frames, they must be
naked and alone, they must stand for themselves.
My friend Henri and I arrived at this together in 1965
before I went away, before he began to kill himself,
and the two of us to betray our love. Can you taste
what I'm saying? It is onions or potatoes, a pinch
of simple salt, the wealth of melting butter, it is obvious,
it stays in the back of your throat like a truth
you never uttered because the time was always wrong,
it stays there for the rest of your life, unspoken,
made of that dirt we call earth, the metal we call salt,
in a form we have no words for, and you live on it.
~Philip Levine

Unknown said...

another thought provoking post...thank you for keeping this front and center, that we can support the warrior but not the war.

My husband is a Vietnam era vet, he was drafter but did not end up in Vietnam...he was indeed spit upon at a parade in Denver.

peace indeed

Kathleen Barnes said...

Semper Fi.

Fran aka Redondowriter said...

Honor the warrior, not the war. This was a very poignant photo and haiku, but your reflections and the letter from 2004 really touched my heart. Ron Kovic, who wrote Born on the 4th of July, is my neighbor, although I haven't seen him out and about lately. He is still active in protests against wars--not warriors.

Dawn Elliott said...

Treatment of our Vietnam veterans was shameful. Thank goodness that Americans did learn their lesson and now loudly honor the men and women who sacrifice everything for our freedoms. Such a powerful post today!

foxysue said...

There are few heroes in my life, number one my dad, who was a soldier in the second world war, a cheeky chap who was nearly drowned when his glider plane was dropped short off the island of Sicily, always joking of how he kept his cigarettes dry in his cap!

And then there's you Joe and your lovely heart, bless you.

Ms Foxysue x

Leslie said...

this made me cry - your photo, your haiku, and the letter.


gma said...

This is so touching. I almost can't comment.Just want to say I protested the Vietnam war, never the warriors.
The ones I knew came home in a box.
Unfortunately at that time ignorant people got the war and warriors confused.Sad. Hope we have learned our lesson.

miss pie said...

...that peace would prevail... i love, love, love that... it is good to remember vietnam... shall we not forget.... my brother went straight to 'nam right outta high school... he's changed... absolutely... and oh so thankful he came home to see the world another day... so many who didn't... thank you for the time and attention you took to your post...

Mel said...

Wow. The photos alone are telling and emotional. Accompanited by the words--all the more powerful.

You speak to it so well, with or without words.
I'm honoured to have crossed paths with such a honourable warrior and an exceptional man.